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Archive for the ‘Choices’ Category

Serendipitously, I was able to learn to use a computer when my husband was obliged to buy one to pursue his Open University course. I was delighted to realise that my touch typing skills enabled me to send e-mails tripping off the key board.with great spontaneity. Invaluable when two sons took off for the USA and Australia,and a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends abroad. (more…)

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In the mid-eighties, after a thirty-year’s skirmish writing advertising copy in Chicago and New York, it was time for an exit strategy.  I’d work five more years and stash a buffer of cash for the future.

My innards, having had all the fiesta they could metabolize, however, had their own timetable.  Two-and-a-half years into the plan, I began cleaning out my desk.  The day after the Agency lost two major accounts (not my fault, I swear, but it was a sign), with a mystical hand at my back urging me forward, I walked into the corner office and tearfully resigned. (more…)

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I have had many forks in the road. I ran a business and was asked to run for City Council, I won and then had to sell the business. I never regretted the move. I have taken many forks and I have been very fortunate they have all been wonderful experiences. I will mention one other. I had taught cooking for a number of years and one day I heard by accident that Frances Blackwood who was the food writer of the Evening bulletin had retired. It was a job I always wanted, but food writers rarely retire. I immediately called the Bulletin went in for an interview and instead of getting the food writer I got my own Sunday column on food and the family. I wrote that column every Sunday until the Bulletin closed.

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When I look back on my life, I’m mostly pleased with the choices I’ve made, and I’m mostly pleased with the things that happened to me even when I had little or no control over events. (I’m a big lemonade maker.) Yet, there are some times I wish I had been less practical and some times I wish I had been more careful.

When I was in college, I majored in history, wanted to go to law school, work at the UN, and improve the world. Instead, I got married, got a Master’s degree, became a teacher, and improved a few kids.

Needing more, I decided to get a doctorate at the age of 45. I toyed with the idea of going back to square one and becoming an architect so I could spend time thinking about space and environment and their impact on people’s lives. I also considered my other unfulfilled wish: law school. But I opted for the sensible thing and extended and expanded my existing career path instead. I ended up as a college teacher in a department of education. My career has been satisfying and rewarding but kind of unexciting. I do regret that. It did enable me to follow my husband’s career around the world on many exciting adventures which I would not have been able to do had I not been working on an academic calendar.

What I found myself doing –subconsciously living out these fantasies, I guess– was to buy houses (we moved three times) that were in bad condition but in good neighborhoods and remodel them by changing the interior space. I was always my own contractor and architect. I drew up plans on the computer, rearranged walls in the houses, added or subtracted doors, windows, and rooms, redid kitchens and bathrooms, and was sorry when the work was completed. I think I’ve finally run out of steam: I don’t intend to do any more major remodeling but who can tell? This was hardly a substitute for a career passion but I did have a good time.

I think the greatest regret I have is that I never felt passion for my career. I enjoyed my work, and I believe I did it well. Some of my students have told me that I have had strong impact on their lives and I feel my work has been worthwhile. But I envy people who breathe fire into their work. I know that some are emblazoned and some get burned. But “better to have loved and lost”, yada yada yada.  I often wonder if I would have had the passion had I been less sensible about my career choice and had followed a dream instead.

Enough looking back. Now I must get to work on the book we’re writing.

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